VOY: S5E06: “Timeless”

In which Harry kills everyone. 

“Welp, better start digging.”

Evidently, Voyager has found a desolate arctic wasteland. Good news if they need to replentish water stores, perhaps to sift for deuterium. Although if they’ve run out this quickly, there’s no hope for them. But no, I am very wrong. Instead, Voyager is buried under some ice and given the depth of the crash, Tom’s got some ‘splainin’ to do. These folks in the suit are definitely Federation, and in fact they are Chakotay and Kim. When they beam inside, everything is covered in frost and barely working – they need to power it with some sort of tap.

Analysis shows that Voyager hit the ice at full impulse. The fact that they were going about .25C and didn’t disintigrate is a testament to Federation engineering. That said, everyone seems to be dead, unsurprisingly. They find Seven’s corpse too, and Chakotay asks ‘Tessa” to beam her aboard. Harry’s found the Doctor and the mobile emitter, and they extract him. They’re here to go back in time and fix history.

“Have you ever really LOOKED at your hand?”

We flash back to some modification that’s been made to the warp drive, and everyone’s celebrating. Events are starting to take shape – The crew hybridized some experimental warp drive, it went out of control, and they dropped out of warp and slammed into a planet. The modification IsWas called the Quantum Slipstream Drive, and it was worth expending replicator rations on confetti. The QS drive involves, among other things, Borg technology. And Neelix’s stuffed fly for good luck. And Seven is drunk, after one champagne. Tom, however, is still working on a warp core diagnostic. He’s convinced the situation is a disaster waiting to happen. He and Harry head to the holodeck.

So, thinking back to Night, when all of the holodecks were on constant demand, how do you suppose they handle things if all the holodecks are occupied and someone wants to use one for work. Do you get to override someone’s program on demand? Is there a customary ten minutes warning so that the current occupant can finish the scene, save the level, or put their pants back on? In the simulation, the slipstream engages, and the phase variance Tom had noticed does indeed knock them out of slipstream, take out their inertial dampers, and cave in Deck 10. Past Harry is not ready to give up even after 23 simulations, but Past Tom is certain.

Past Harry has an idea. Since the problem occurs gradually, he suspects that someone ahead of the main ship, in a shuttle, could map the distortions, slave Voyagerto their course corrections, and avoid the edges of whatever keyhole they need to fly through. Everyone is way too excited about this working to make for an objective test team. The shuttle will be a full few seconds ahead of Voyager, which is an impressive distance to extend the slipstream given that they’ll be travelling well above 2000C. Keep in mind, that’s roughly a distance of 4 AU per second of adjustment time, or from the sun to past the asteroid belt and not quite to Jupiter. That is, of course, assuming that distance and velocity even exist inside a Quantum Slipstream, or that they work the same. It’s entirely possible that the drive doesn’t move Voyager faster than the Full Impulse at which they’ll crash into the planet, but merely tunnels through subspace in a different way. If that’s the case, then the shuttle would only be a few seconds ahead of Voyager at Impulse speeds, or not even all the way from Earth to the moon.

Past Harry explains the hurry – there are crystals in the core of the QS drive that are already starting to decay, and evidently aren’t replaceable. Thus, there’s still a rush, so Harry will get the plans to Janeway in a hurry. She and Chakotay had dinner plans, which they maintain. Harry and Chakotay were set to be in the Flier ahead of Voyager. Chakotay’s not pleased about the risks that Janeway’s taking, and the former Maquis is the one quoting Starfleet safety regs at Janeway. Also, Chakotay’s steadfast support of Janeway reminds me a lot of their adventure planetside, and when Voyager plowed into the planet apparently it didn’t budge the PADD on her dinner table.

Back 15 years in the future, it turns out Voyager crashed just outside the Alpha quadrant, which is fantastic. All they’d have to do next time around is not crash into that specific planet. I imagine gravity wells make it more likely that a destabilizaiton will occur, but still it ought not to be too difficult to miss a planet. When you do your time thing, just be sure to do a controlled drop out of warp when you hit the 75% marker. That’s still like 50 years off the journey. Harry and Chakotay did make it back to Earth, but Starfleet gave up on the search six years later. Because Harry blames himself for sending the wrong corrections to Voyager, he’s going to go back in time to fix it. Or rather, he’s going to send a better set of corrections back in time, via Seven’s cranial implants. Starfleet has a Borg Temporal Transmitter from a crashed Cube, which they’ve stolen. Oh, and apparently Harry and Chakotay are wanted for High Treason and Conspiracy to Violate the Prime Directive.

Tessa is Chakotay’s girlfriend, and it’s serious enough to join him for some light treason. And apparently technology has moved fast enough over the past 15 years that Voyager‘s state-of-the-art controls are now clunky and obsolete. Honestly, that’s surprising. I can imagine improvements being made to the drivers, but once you’ve gotten to the 24th century I’d expect UI to remain relatively consistent.

Chakotay’s getting last-minute jitters, now that we find out he’s got a girlfriend. However neither of them are going to let this stop them. Harry’s recording a last message to someone, while he and the Doctor finish up the work on Seven’s remains and they discuss the homecoming. Harry’s been struggling with survivor’s guilt, particularly since it might actually be his fault. The Doctor offers the ‘what if you make things worse’ argument’ but Harry’s not having it. The Starfleet pursuit isn’t persuading him, why would the alternate timeline concern do it?

Back in the past, Janeway delivers her final log entry, and the team battens down for the jump to Slipstream. While in the Future, the Flier is being chased down by a Galaxy-class starship. That seems like overkill until you remember that the Galaxies are probably not aging particularly well, post-Dominion-War – It’s hard to know what tech advancements the Federation got out of evidently surviving that conflict but we know that advances in big beefy engines and combat-primary hulls were just the start of it.

Man, Bop-It got WEIRD in the 24th century.

The Doctor is running out of time to finish the modifications to Seven’s skull. It turns out that chasing them is none other than Captain LaForge of the starship Challenger.  For someone who knows that their prey is playing with time technology, he doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry. Geordi is easygoing and sympathetic even as he acknowledges that they’re about to fight. Unsurprisingly, the Delta Flier is only lasting this long because the Challenger is trying not to vaporize them.

There are scene intercuts here which suggest that time is proceeding concurrently in both time frames. This is, of course, not the case, so we can safely ignore all the tension build-up of ‘will PastVoyager get the course corrections ‘in time’ because that was the whole point of establishing Seven’s Time of Death – so that they can send the corrections back to exactly the right time. If the Challenger stops FutureHarry and FutureChakotay, then the past has already happened and we know the worst-case scenario. We do see PastHarry sending the first set of corrections back, and it working briefly, but then it going wrong. In the past, Harry’s signal and telemetry broke up, but by then it was too late for Tom to course-correct. In the future, Harry sends the course-correction back to Seven and sends it along.

Not enough black diamonds in the sector.

Seven receives the corrections in the past, after telemetry was down. Do you think Voyager ever even got PastHarry’s first, initial phase correction? It’s possible, since FutureHarry’s corrections into the past don’t work. We also observe Chakotay refuse to stop and turn back for Voyager. The ship, meanwhile, is collapsing, so they head for the ice planet deliberately to land and effect repairs. That’s how the crash ultimately occurred. And given the relative velocity in realspace that Voyager must have been going in the Quantum Slipstream in order to make it here, this has to be when they fell out of QS ‘the first time’ down to the millisecond. Nothing has changed in the future, apparently not even Voyager‘s crash location. Which in turn suggests that FutureHarry’s corrections were ‘always’ what dropped them out of QS. Novikov self-consistency – Voyager dropped out of QS because FutureHarry sent a correction to Seven to try to stop Voyager from dropping out of QS. Isn’t Time Travel fun?

FutureHarry, of course, is on a fast downward spiral due to the failure of his plan. The transmitter is still up. They could  try to dial it backwards and overwrite the first message. First they need to find the right message. ‘Abort’ would be a favorite. They dropped out a few parsecs from the Alpha Quadrant. As long as they do it in a controlled fashion, I’d call it a solid win unless the warp core is literally useless once they disable the QS. The Doctor suggests this, and their final plan is to send a phase variance ‘correction’ which will do just that – a controlled collapse of the slipstream. They’ve got one last obstacle to overcome – the transciever is losing power, so they have to cannibalize the Mobile Emitter to power it. Harry sends just as the Flier explodes.

Back in the past, the phase corrections successfully shut down the slipstream. In the postmortem, PastHarry points out that he didn’t send any phase corrections, so at least Janeway knows that something weird happened and her Harry didn’t screw up. After this, they dismantle the QS drive and accept that fact that they’re ‘only’ ten years closer to earth over the course of like fifteen minutes. Down to 50. It really feels like they should be able to make a few more short jumps and shut down the drive when the variances build up, though. But heck, at least morale is back up. Also, one of the things FutureHarry sent back was his Starfleet Security code – his signature and approximate timecode. And his letter to himself.



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